News | 30 March 2017

Improved plan will see Wellington’s Town Hall reopened

Wellington’s beloved Town Hall is on track to be reopened and restored with a new plan for earthquake strengthening being presented to the City Council next week, Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says.

Town Hall from Civic Square

The plan lays out a new design for the Town Hall that will include earthquake strengthening to 100% of the building code.

Extensive testing will be carried out before construction begins, and the Town Hall will be rebuilt and ready to reopen in 2021.

“The Town Hall is a world class performance venue, and it has been the site of some of Wellington’s most significant cultural performances.”

Council’s previous plan to restore the venue called for an expenditure of $58.5 million for the project, but the Mayor says that figure has risen after the subsequent earthquakes and will be closer to $85 million, with another $5 million already budgeted for.

“The impact of this project has been factored into this year’s Annual Plan, and this year’s portion can be met within the 3.3% average proposed rate increase I announced on Monday. The cost will be spread across the lifetime of the asset in order to minimise the impact on rates,” he says.

“It has been clear for a while that the previous plan wasn’t going to be enough to see this building restored. It’s not going to become cheaper in the future and building a replacement venue would be much more expensive and lack the tradition, heritage and prestige of the Town Hall.

“That’s why our Town Hall team has been re-visiting strengthening options in light of technological developments and ground conditions. They’ve also undertaken a review of the building’s proposed foundation design, taking into account the 2013 and 2016 earthquakes.”

The higher overall cost estimate largely reflects an improved scope of works, which includes basement storage and access, basement toilets, an extra goods lift, a higher contingency given the complexity of the project, a buoyant construction market and continued seismic uncertainty after the 2016 earthquake.

Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle says the Council will be consulting Wellingtonians for their feedback on the plan.

“It’s a big investment and we want a clear mandate from the public. Previous consultation showed Wellingtonians loved this building and wanted to see it open,” he says.

The Town Hall has played a crucial part in the history of our city. It hosted the inaugural New Zealand Symphony Orchestra performance 70 years ago, as well as memorable performances by Dame Malvina Major, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

“I’m hopeful this will have public support and people will see this is a way to help our city retain its cultural capital status. The Town Hall being closed has left a huge hole in the performance space in our city, and I’m excited we have the opportunity to restore it,” adds the Deputy Mayor.